One of the things I’ve learned from John Maxwell is that those closest to you determine your level of success. The most compelling evidence for this is your administrative assistant. A great one will multiply your impact tremendously! The wrong one can easily sabotage your success.
NOTE: I know the majority of leaders don’t have dedicated administrative support. So, I’m going to do two additional posts in the days ahead: Leveraging Shared Administrative Support and Increasing Productivity WITHOUT Admin Support.
My current assistant is Teneya – she is amazing. Here are some of the characteristics I was looking for when she was selected for the role…
Think – My first criteria when selecting an assistant is their ability to think. This is the most critical responsibility. I do not need hired hands waiting to be told what to do. I need someone who can think.
Proactive – I need someone to anticipate what needs to be done, and do it. A great example – I remember the first time my assistant asked me what I planned to work on during a plane ride. My response, “I haven’t thought about it.” Her response, “Here’s a folder of things you need to work on to prepare for next week.” Touchdown!! That’s the kind of help I need daily.
Candor – I have got to have truth-tellers in my life. And unfortunately, the higher you go in an organization, the harder it is to get people to tell you the truth. When I select an assistant, I tell them that if they can’t regularly tell me that I’m an idiot, they can’t have the job. Also, my best performance review every year is from my assistant.
Focus – I lose focus. My assistant can’t. I get distracted, my assistant can’t. When things get crazy, you can’t afford for your assistant to join the party. He or she must be able to maintain focus on what’s important now and what’s important next.
Details – I need someone to think about, and take care of, the details of my day. Yes, travel and logistics are included, but much more… Who am I meeting with and why? What do I need to do to prepare? Teneya even asks me after meetings, “What Action Items do we have?”
Fluidity – I used to think my assistant needed to be flexible; I’ve come to realize that being flexible is far too rigid. She needs to be fluid! My world is dynamic, and she needs to thrive in an ever-changing environment.
Grace – I get a lot of requests… requests to attend meetings, requests to speak, requests to write articles for magazines, interviews, etc. The answer to most of those requests should be no. Teneya has to be able to deliver that message with grace. We want people to love Chick-fil-A as much after the call as they did before.
It’s a huge job – I’m thankful I’ve got Teneya on my team! [GLS_Shield]
What expectations do you have for your assistant? Are they mutually understood?
Author: Mark Miller
Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.